Boris Johnson, the UK’s new prime minister, and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds have become Britain’s first unwed couple to live in the official residence.
The prime minister’s official spokesman confirmed last week that Symonds will join Johnson in the Downing Street flat in the next few days.
It’s unclear how long Johnson and Symonds have been a couple. He and his second wife, Marina Wheeler, announced their divorce back in fall of 2018 after news of infidelity. Johnson and Symonds weren’t seen together until June of this year.
Here’s what you need to know about the UK’s new prime minister’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds.
1. Symonds is The Daughter of Matthew Symonds, Co-founder of The Independent
Symonds was born and raised in London. Her parents are Matthew Symonds and Josephine McAffe, a famous journalist and lawyer.
Symonds attended all girl private schools until college where she studied theatre and art history at the University of Warwick. After graduation, Symonds pursued jobs in communications and immersed herself in the political landscape of London. She became press officer for the Conservative Party in 2010 and was quickly promoted.
According to CNN, Symonds was the youngest director of communications to ever work for the party. She’s been credited multiple times with the cleaning up of Johnson’s persona during his political career.
2. Symonds’ Political Career Ended After She Was Accused of Abusing Party Expenses
Last August, sources emerged saying Symonds was asked to leave her position at Conservative HQ after abusing her expenses. Officials from the party reported photos from Symonds’ Instagram account from a trip to Morocco. She was accused of using too much of the party’s money and for leaving her department understaffed while away.
UK’s Metro Newspaper reported Ms. Symonds was “costing the party thousands of pounds in unauthorized expenses, which included using taxis for travel home and to restaurants even when off-duty.”
Symonds’ political career began in 2011 when she joined the campaign team that helped re-elect Johnson as mayor of London in 2012.
Symonds coached Johnson to be meticulous over who he spoke to and helped him chose what public statements to make during his run for re-election. Symonds inspired Johnson to lose weight and to pay closer attention to how he dressed, as to not look so disheveled to the press.
Caroline Wheeler, deputy political editor at the Sunday Times, called Symonds a “very established political communicator,” who “knows how to keep [Johnson] on message.”
Symonds was promoted many times within the Conservative Party. She held a senior position until August 2018 when she resigned from her work as Director of Communications after the news of her affair with Johnson was discovered by the media, right around the time she was accused of abusing party expenses.
Symonds and her colleagues claim this was a “politically motivated smear.”
3. Symonds is an Animal Rights Activist
“Carrie Symonds brings extensive knowledge of public policy-making and communications on a national and international level,” Oceana wrote on their website, introducing Symonds as their new senior adviser.
The conservation charity is a big part of Symonds’ life and aligned with her passions. “She’ll influence policies, particularly the environment,” said political commentator Lain Dale. The climate crisis and animal welfare are big issues for Symonds. Johnson has been spotted with her in big moments of her advocacy. He touched on issues of climate change, pollution and animal cruelty himself during his inaugural speech.
Symonds has delivered many speeches herself since working for Oceana. Here is a clip of her in Cavendish Square during a march against Japanese whaling.
Symonds Twitter page is strictly professional showing no sign of her relationship with Johnson. She’s focused on her mission to end pollution in our oceans. Her only involvement in politics now is centered around this mission.
4. Symonds Was Linked to Johnson in June After Police Were Called to Her South London Flat
Johnson and Symonds were first photographed together in what some say was a “staged photo” following a dispute they had in June.
According to The Guardian, The police were called to Symonds’ flat after her neighbors called to report a loud argument between her and Johnson.
They claimed they heard “screaming, slamming and banging,” and that Symonds’ voice was heard screaming, “get off me” and “get out of my flat.” When the police arrived, Johnson and Symonds were just fine and claimed there was no offense. Police did not take action.
Neither Johnson or Symonds commented on the event. Shortly after, photos of them circulated the press. The two were seen sitting together in a park, holding hands.
5. Symonds Says She Was Almost a Victim of Serial Black Cab Rapist John Worboys When She Was 19
Along with her passion to preserve the earth’s oceans, Symonds has boldly spoken out against sexual harassment. She gave an exclusive interview with BBC News back in 2009, where she described her encounter with John Worboys, the UK’s “taxi cab rapist.”
At 19, Symonds caught a cab ride home from Worboys after a night out with her friends. She was waiting on the bus when Worboys offered to give her a ride for free. He told Symonds what he told all his victims, that he “won some money gambling.” He then asked if they could toast. He offered Symonds alcohol that she accepted. “There was always the slightest doubt this could be spiked so I had a sip but then I poured the rest of it onto the floor,” Symonds told BBC.
Worboys offered her a drink again, this time asking if he could join her in the back of the cab. Symonds agreed, and later reported that he “seemed quite friendly,” and that she “didn’t feel worried by him at any point.”
Symonds claimed she blacked out but is 99% sure she wasn’t assaulted. “I feel that if I was assaulted I would instinctively know. That’s what I hope,” said Symonds. After seeing Worboys’ arrest on the news, she came forth as one of his victims. Symonds helped launch a judicial review after it was decided Worboys was no longer a threat to the UK.
The review concluded that Worboys still posed a major risk to public life and would remain in jail.